It may sound funny, but many of Australia’s loveable koalas are being diagnosed with chlamydia. However, it’s really nothing to laugh at.
to surveys of several wild populations, there is a 100 percent
infection rate. Chlamydia can cause infertility, severe bladder
inflammation, blindness and death. Even more problematic is that
antibiotic treatments can exacerbate the problem for the animals.
Antibiotics could disrupt the gut microbes and make it hard for them
to digest the eucalyptus leaves, which is a key part of their diet.
chlamydia has raged in koalas for years, it’s not known why the
animals are so vulnerable to it. However, scientists believe the
chlamydia virus is in the same family of HIV. Researchers looked at
the koalas infected with the koala retrovirus type B virus were
likely to have chlamydia and could develop serious complications like
an infection in their reproductive and urinary tract, cancer and
the virus is transmitted is the same as humans – sexual contract –
but young koalas can get infected by consuming pap – a nutritious
kind of feces that infected mothers excrete.
given antibiotics have been shown to lose weight and die after
getting the treatment. Researchers suggest the drugs trying to help
them are actually doing them more harm than good. They believe the
drugs are interfering with the animal’s digestion and making it
harder for them to break down the potentially toxic tannin compound
because of the lack of gut microbes.
the last 20 years, koala populations in Australia have dropped nearly
80 percent in many areas. Surveys of treatment facility records show
that chlamydia was the deadliest of all diseases the animals are
infected – the deadliest is injury from vehicles.
The new John Oliver Koala Chlamydia Ward was built to help the infected koalas, but other work is needed to preserve their future.
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